Booting up Moxxi’s Heist of The Handsome Jackpot DLC for the first time, I found myself waiting with some pretty high expectations.
Gearbox has set the bar extremely high when it comes to paid DLC for Borderlands. Lest we forget, Borderlands gave us General Knox and Borderlands 2 introduced what might be considered one of the best DLCs of the decade with Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep.
With BL2 especially, the additional content felt special. With it, we got new things such as pearlescent weapons, magical relics, and Mr. Torgue. Needless to say, the wonderful experience that all of these stories provided painted the picture of what I was to expect from Borderlands 3’s first crack at a full DLC campaign.
While the story took time to gain its footing, the final sequence was wildly entertaining and I would wholeheartedly recommend Moxxi’s Heist to any fan of the series.
“What do you have to lose? Besides your entire life’s savings...”
Setting The Stage
The easiest way to describe Moxxi’s Heist would be to call it “If Borderlands did Ocean’s 11”.
Moxxi comes to you with a job. Handsome Jack’s lavish casino has been sitting derelict for nearly a decade and the plunder within is ripe for the taking.
Unfortunately, when you arrive you find that this job might not be so simple.
Since Jack’s death, new management has taken over in the form of a man small in stature but big in attitude. Pretty Boy fit a little too comfortably into the mob-boss cliché for my liking. In fact, I had to write his name down because I simply kept forgetting it throughout the four hour campaign.
More than anything, Pretty Boy is just a bad guy with Napoleon Syndrome and, surrounded by a backdrop of the self-worshiping lavishness that Handsome Jack is so well known for, he easily fades away.
As with any good heist, the story is split into a couple main threads: rounding up the crew and supplies, and executing the plan. Throughout the first portion of the story, we see the different parts of the casino ship from the luxurious bath houses all the way down to the home of “Trashlantis” in the ship’s garbage compactor.
Each of these main players brings something important to the plan. From the Stranger Things-inspired 80’s robot fetish-ist Freddy to the sultry and mysterious french pyromaniac, Ember, the side characters, to me, were much more fun than the main antagonist.
Once the you assemble your team, the game surprisingly puts you through a full-on montage sequence. Each team member describes their part of the plan and you are flashed to that place to accomplish each task. This was an excellent way to present these relatively menial tasks without making the sequence feel tedious. I really felt that Hollywood heist-movie vibe and I hope to see it again.
Finally there’s the job. To set an expectation for difficulty here, I’ll be honest. I got to level 50 when BL3 came out and pretty much stopped. There were too many games coming out at the time to really hit the grindstone hard so that was that.
When I booted up the DLC, I looked at my inventory, found the highest gear score weapons and jumped in. Little did I know that I was equipped with an absolute MONSTER that was practically made for this DLC.
Most of the enemies in Moxxi’s Heist are the familiar Hyperion Loader enemies. Obviously this means that the vast majority of the enemy health bars were yellow, indicating they were armored. The weapon I had with me was the legendary Breath of the Dying, a corrosive AR that releases corrosive bombs with every kill.
To describe most encounters as trivial wouldn’t even be doing it justice. This thing absolutely shredded everything its path.
Most of the enemies are armored, but there is also a human faction on board that are just reskins of the COV. Make sure to bring some Fire-type weapons to deal with them.
There are some blue shields, but I only pulled out those weapons for one instance that I won’t give away. I run a melee-focused Amara build with crazy lifesteal on every punch so I am very difficult to kill.
Combine my tankiness with my perfect legendary weapon and this DLC was kind of a breeze. Enemies downed me a few times, but I only fully died to falling off ledges.
Granted, I was not playing on TVHM, nor any mayhem, but I decided, for the purposes of this review, I’d just run it on normal for a vanilla look at what the DLC had to offer. I’m sure that jumping into endgame modes and challenge types will really crank the difficulty in some specific spots.
A quick note about something that’s important to me with this series: the boss fights. Two out of the three “main” boss fights were real wins for me.
New mechanics, interesting enemies, and boss strategies that force you to adjust your play style definitely made for some exciting encounters.
Fans of Dark Souls might see a familiar boss style make an appearance which was a ton of fun. The other boss fell flat considering it was more about who the he was versus how he was capable of fighting.
From a technical perspective, I was having a few struggles with this new area. There were many areas within the casino that caused framerates to drop as low as 20fps.
Keep in mind, this is in the performance mode which is focused on smooth gameplay over 4k graphics. Thankfully, this was more than made up for by BL3’s now-famously satisfying gunplay. Every shot still feels crispy and even with so many different weapon archetypes, it all feels good.
One thing that I noticed early on was that I couldn’t stop waiting for the fantasy to kick in. Especially compared to some of the series’ former DLCs, this setting felt very… safe?
Think of some of the other things we’ve experienced in former expansions. We’ve ridden on sand sailing pirate ships, plundered dwarven mines, even fought our way through the twisted mind of claptrap himself. These settings have all turned the status quo of the game on its head and provided a novel experience compared to the base game.
Here it’s just another spaceship and ironically, for a casino DLC, this felt like a pretty conservative bet by Gearbox.
It seems that my feelings for Moxxi’s Heist of The Handsome Jackpot mimic my feelings for Borderlands 3 overall. If you’ve enjoyed the series in the past, I have no doubt that you’ll enjoy yourself here.
The humor is great, some of the visuals are very high quality, and the characters are as quirky and weird as ever. But also as before, I don’t feel like this DLC was any sort of step forward like it could have been.
Without the introduction of a level cap increase, a new loot rarity, new playable characters, or new skill trees, I’m left wondering what could have been. Thankfully, we still have a lot more Borderlands content to look forward to for the rest of the year and I’ll be there for every badass moment.